What is Sherborn Power Choice?
Sherborn Power Choice is a municipal electricity aggregation, which is a form of group electricity purchasing.
Typically, your electric utility, Eversource, provides two sets of services to you:
- They deliver your electricity. Delivery services appear on your bill as delivery charges.
- They also supply your electricity, which means they buy electricity for you and pass the cost along to you. The cost of the electricity they buy for you appears on your bill as supply charges.
But in Massachusetts, there are actually three ways to purchase your electricity:
- Your utility can do it for you, as just described. This is called Basic Service, and this is how most people buy their electricity.
- You can sign a contract with an electricity supplier yourself. You may have received offers in the mail or over the phone.
- Your municipal government can sign a contract with an electricity supplier that you can benefit from. This third option is municipal electricity aggregation, and this is what Sherborn Power Choice is.
Learn more about how aggregation works.
What gives Sherborn the authority to launch an aggregation?
Municipal electricity aggregation was enabled by the Massachusetts Restructuring Act of 1997 (Chapter 164, Section 134), which allows local municipal governments to aggregate the electricity supply loads of the electricity consumers within their geographic boundaries in order to negotiate more favorable terms with an electricity supplier.
Municipal aggregations are subject to oversight by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and Sherborn’s aggregation plan is subject to a regulatory review and approval process before the Town will be authorized to implement the program. (Learn more about Sherborn’s implementation process.)
Nearly 50% of Massachusetts communities have already launched electricity aggregations.
Why is Sherborn launching this program?
The primary goal of Sherborn Power Choice is to provide more clean, renewable electricity to Sherborn residents and businesses, electricity price stability, and consumer protections, all at a competitive price. Sherborn Power Choice will be a Town alternative to Eversource’s Basic Service. It will also be a transparent alternative to other electricity offers, but without high pressure or fees of those other offers.
(Please note that, while Sherborn Power Choice will offer the potential for savings when compared with Eversource’s Basic Service price, Sherborn Power Choice cannot guarantee savings.)
Massachusetts state law already requires that a minimum amount of renewable energy be included in all the electricity sold in the state. The default option in Sherborn Power Choice will include additional renewable energy over and above the state required minimum. Sherborn Power Choice will also offer options to choose other amounts of renewable electricity.
How will I benefit from Sherborn Power Choice?
With Sherborn Power Choice, the Town will use the bulk buying power of the community to provide you with new electricity choices that will give you greater control over the environmental characteristics and price of your electricity supply.
- Cleaner electricity – Sherborn Power Choice participants will automatically receive more renewable electricity than is required by state law. (The standard amount is still to be determined, depending in part on electricity prices at the time the Town enters into a contract with an electricity supplier). Or you will be able to choose other amounts of renewable electricity.
- Price stability – The program will provide a fixed price for electricity supply over a long period of time. This will make the program different from Eversource’s Basic Service, where the price changes every six months or less, and from many commercial offers in the market place.
- Consumer protections – Sherborn Power Choice will provide a trustworthy Town alternative to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace. The program will include consumer protections, such as no hidden fees and the ability to opt out of the program at any time with no penalty.
Is Sherborn the only community in Massachusetts that is implementing an aggregation?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. Sherborn is joining approximately 150 other Massachusetts communities that already have aggregations. Increasingly, communities are implementing “green” aggregations like the Sherborn’s program will be, which increase the amount of renewable electricity in the community’s electricity supply beyond the minimum amount required by state law.
What will change for me with Sherborn Power Choice?
You will see two key changes as a result of participating in Sherborn Power Choice:
- On the supply portion of your Eversource electricity bill, you will see the Sherborn Power Choice electricity supplier listed as your electricity supplier instead of Eversource. Sherborn will choose its supplier through a competitive procurement process after the Sherborn Power Choice aggregation plan receives regulatory approval.
- Eversource will use a Sherborn Power Choice price to calculate the supply charges on your bill instead of their own Basic Service price.
Additionally, the amount of renewable energy that you receive may change, depending on which program option you choose.
Otherwise, you will continue to receive your electricity bill from Eversource, you will continue to pay Eversource, and you will continue to call Eversource if your power goes out.
If you are eligible for any discounts from Eversource, those discounts will be unaffected by your participation in Sherborn Power Choice.
I received a call/visit/offer in the mail about my electricity bill. Is it from the Town or this program?
No. The Town of Sherborn will send a letter to electricity accounts that are eligible for automatic enrollment after Sherborn’s aggregation plan receives regulatory approval. That letter has not been mailed. It will arrive in an envelope bearing the Town seal, and the letter itself will also bear the Town seal. The letter will not ask for additional information. If your account is eligible to be automatically enrolled, as will be the case for most Sherborn electricity customers, you will not need to provide any additional information.
Please note: Eversource, the Town of Sherborn, and Sherborn Power Choice do not make sales calls or visits to your home.
Any person or company who asks for additional information when they market their program (such as the account number on your electrical bill) to you does not represent Sherborn Power Choice or Eversource.
If you receive a letter that does not include the Town seal, it is not from the Town and does not represent Sherborn Power Choice. If you want to confirm whether you have received a legitimate Town communication, please contact customer support with Sherborn’s program consultants.
If you receive a call or a visit from someone who wants to discuss your electricity, keep these two things in mind:
- Treat your Eversource electricity account number like you treat your credit card information. Do not give it out unless you want to purchase your electricity from someone else.
- You do have the right to select an electricity supplier of your choice. If you choose to explore this option, please check the terms of the agreement carefully. Things to check for include, but are not limited to: minimum bill amounts, contract length requirements, early termination fees, low introductory rates that change after the introductory period ends, and rates that vary.
If you feel a sales person has fraudulently identified themselves as working for Eversource or the Town, please report it to the Department of Public Utilities Consumer Division 617-737-2836, or DPUConsumer.Complaints@state.ma.us.
How long will Sherborn Power Choice last?
The program will last as long as Sherborn believes it is providing value for the community. Sherborn will sign an initial contract with an electricity supplier when the program launches. At the end of that contract, Sherborn can decide whether to continue the program or discontinue it and return all participants to Eversource’s Basic Service.
Who do I call if the power goes out?
Call Eversource if your power goes out, as always. Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the polls and wires, and will remain responsible for addressing power outages.
I have solar panels on my property or participate in a community solar program. Will I continue to receive credits on my bill?
Yes. Your credits will continue to appear on your Eversource bill and will continue to be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service price, not a Sherborn Power Choice price.
How do I maintain my account's tax-exempt status if I participate in Sherborn Power Choice?
Tax exempt accounts that wish to maintain their tax exempt status in Sherborn Power Choice must submit tax exemption documentation to the program’s electricity supplier.
This means that tax exemption documentation must be submitted each time the program’s electricity supplier changes.
The program’s electricity supplier is required by the State of Massachusetts to have valid tax exemption documentation on hand for all tax exempt accounts.
You may have submitted tax exemption documentation to Eversource already, but Eversource does not share this documentation with the program’s electricity supplier. It is the customer’s responsibility to submit this documentation.
More information about where to send your tax exemption documentation will be available closer to program launch.
Enrolling and participating
How do I join Sherborn Power Choice?
Most electricity accounts in Sherborn will be automatically enrolled when the program launches.
Specifically, all electricity accounts on Eversource’s Basic Service will be automatically enrolled at launch, unless they opt out.
If you have a contract with an electricity supplier at the time the program launches, your account will not be automatically enrolled, but you can choose to enroll, and the enrollment process will be easy. Please be aware that your electricity supplier may charge early termination fees, so you should carefully review your current contract terms and conditions before making that decision.
More information about enrollment will be available after Sherborn’s aggregation plan receives regulatory approval.
Who will be eligible to participate in Sherborn Power Choice?
All metered electricity customers within the geographic boundaries of Sherborn will be eligible to participate. All Sherborn electricity customers with Eversource’s Basic Service will be automatically enrolled when the program launches. The automatic enrollment model is state law.
Do I have to participate?
No. While the program has an automatic enrollment model in accordance with state law, participation is not required. There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time. If you receive a letter notifying you that your account will be automatically enrolled, you may opt out of the program before being automatically enrolled, and you may also opt out any time after enrollment. If you opt out, the supply portion of your Eversource electricity bill will remain on Eversource’s Basic Service price.
Can I opt out and then re-enroll?
Yes, however if you opt out of the program and want to re-enroll, there’s a possibility that you will be charged a market price instead of the program price. If the electricity market has changed since the signed the electricity supply contract for the program, that market price might be more expensive. You’ll just want to ask at the time you re-enroll.
Pricing, potential savings, and billing
Will Sherborn Power Choice provide savings compared with Eversource?
Sherborn Power Choice will offer the potential for savings compared with the average of Eversource’s changing Basic Service prices. However, Eversource’s prices change every 6 months for residential and small commercial accounts and every 3 months for large commercial accounts, and future prices are not known. As a result, Sherborn Power Choice cannot guarantee to provide savings.
Will I know the program price and the price of each program option before I am enrolled?
Yes. If you are an Eversource Basic Service customer and eligible for automatic enrollment in Sherborn Power Choice, you will receive a letter in the mail with program information, including pricing, before you are enrolled.
What will my electricity supply price be if I participate in Sherborn Power Choice?
Sherborn Power Choice anticipates having three options, but we do not yet know the prices for the different options in the program. The prices will be determined when the Town signs a contract with an electricity supplier. That contract will be signed after a competitive procurement process, which will occur after the state regulatory review and approval process for the Sherborn Power Choice aggregation plan has been completed.
Sherborn Power Choice will provide a stable electricity supply price. Why is a stable electricity supply price important?
Having a stable price for the supply part of your electricity bill can protect you from the seasonal price increases that occur when you have Eversource’s Basic Service. When you have Eversource’s Basic Service, the price that is used to calculate the supply portion of your electricity bill changes every 6 months for residential and small commercial customers, and every 3 months for larger commercial customers, often rising in the winter.
Having a stable price for the supply part of your electricity bill can also provide a predictable alternative to the variable prices offered by some commercial electricity supply offers. Some commercial electricity supply offers will provide a stable price for a few months, but then the price will vary monthly and will rise significantly.
The Sherborn Power Choice price will be fixed for longer than 6 months, and when it changes, the Town will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect.
However, because Eversource’s prices change and future prices are not known, Sherborn Power Choice cannot guarantee to provide savings compared with Eversource’s Basic Service.
What if Eversource's price falls below the Sherborn Power Choice price?
The Sherborn Power Choice price will be a long-term price, while Eversource’s Basic Service price changes every 6 months for residential and small commercial customers and every 3 months for large commercial customers. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Eversource price may fall below the Sherborn Power Choice price. Sherborn Power Choice cannot guarantee that it will beat Eversource’s Basic Service price. Remember that you are free to leave the program at any time and return to Eversource’s Basic Service with penalty or fee.
Will I receive a second electricity bill?
No. Eversource will continue to bill you for your electricity. This is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in Sherborn Power Choice. The program will be integrated into your existing electricity bill.
Where will I see Sherborn Power Choice on my Eversource electricity bill?
Sherborn Power Choice will appear on your electricity bill in two ways:
- On the supply portion of your electricity bill, you will see the Sherborn Power Choice supplier listed as your electricity supplier instead of Eversource.
- The price that Eversource uses to calculate your supply charges will be a Sherborn Power Choice price instead of their own Basic Service price.
Electricity supply and electricity suppliers
I have already signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate in Sherborn Power Choice?
Yes. If you have already chosen an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled in Sherborn Power Choice, but you choose to participate, and enrolling will be easy. Please be aware that your electricity supplier may charge early termination fees, so you should carefully review your current contract terms and conditions before making that decision. More information about enrolling will be available closer to program launch.
What's the difference between Eversource and an electricity supplier?
In Massachusetts, an electric utility like Eversource is fundamentally an electricity delivery company. Eversource does not generate electricity for you. They are responsible for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. They charge you for these services on the delivery portion of your electricity bill.
An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you.
- For most electricity customers, their utility is also their electricity supplier. When you first open your electricity account, this is the case. When Eversource is also your electricity supplier, you have what is known as Eversource’s Basic Service.
- You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your Eversource bill as your electricity supplier, and Eversource will use the price you negotiated with that electricity supplier to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
- In Sherborn Power Choice, the Town will choose an electricity supplier. If you participate, the name of the company selected by the Town will appear on your Eversource bill as your electricity supplier, and Eversource will use a Sherborn Power Choice price to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
What is electricity supply?
Electricity service has two parts: supply and delivery. Supply refers to the electricity itself. Delivery is the process of bringing that electricity to you over the wires.
With Basic Service, your electric utility (Eversource) is your electricity supplier and also delivers the electricity to you.
With Sherborn Power Choice, Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity, but Sherborn will choose its own supplier.
What is a competitive electricity supplier?
A competitive electricity supplier is not your electric utility. Electricity suppliers do not deliver your electricity. They buy it for you, and your electric utility delivers it.
A competitive electricity supplier is a company licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to purchase electricity and related services from the wholesale electricity markets for resale to retail electricity customers.
If you sign a private contract with an electricity supplier or you participate in a municipal program like Sherborn Power Choice, your electric utility (Eversource in Sherborn) will use your electricity supplier’s price to calculate the supply charges on your electricity bill instead of their own Basic Service price.
Does Sherborn Power Choice replace Eversource as my electric utility?
No. Eversource will remain the electric utility for Sherborn and will continue to deliver your electricity, and your primary relationship for electricity will remain with Eversource.
Sherborn Power Choice will change the supplier on your Eversource electricity bill, and it will change the price that Eversource uses to calculate the supply portion of your electricity bill. But your electricity bill will continue to come from Eversource, and Eversource will continue to be your electric utility.
Will Eversource provide me with a lower quality of service if I participate in Sherborn Power Choice?
No. Eversource’s quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Sherborn Power Choice. Eversource does not profit from the supply charges on your electric bill. They make their profit from delivery charges. As a result, they have no preference whether they choose your supplier or Sherborn does.
I am currently eligible for a low-income discount from Eversource. Will that change?
No. If you are eligible for a low-income discount from Eversource, it will be unaffected by your participation in the program. You will continue to receive that discount.
I have budget billing from Eversource. Will this change?
Yes. If you participate in Sherborn Power Choice, budget billing will continue to apply to the delivery charge portion of your bill, but it will no longer apply to the supply charge portion of your bill.
If maintaining budget billing across your entire bill is important to you, you will want to opt out of Sherborn Power Choice.
What is renewable electricity?
Renewable electricity is generated by sources that can be renewed as opposed to sources that can be used only once, such as fossil fuels. Under Massachusetts state law, a variety of resources qualify as renewable. The main sources of renewable electricity are solar, wind, and small hydroelectric projects. Renewable electricity is sometimes referred to as green electricity or clean electricity.
What is the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by Massachusetts law?
State law requires the inclusion of a minimum amount of electricity from older and newer renewable projects in New England as well as from alternative energy sources that are considered highly efficient but not renewable. Many of those minimum amounts increase every year.
Electricity from “premium” renewable energy projects in the New England region is often prioritized. For 2021, Massachusetts state law requires that 18% of your electricity comes from these “premium” renewable energy projects in the New England region (Massachusetts Class I RECs). In 2022, that number will increase to 20%.
In addition, state law requires the inclusion of a minimum amount of renewable energy from older renewable energy projects in New England (Massachusetts Class II RECs), as well as from some alternative energy sources that are considered highly efficient but not renewable.
For more information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources page on compliance information for the Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Why is renewable electricity important?
Using renewable electricity is an important step you can take to fight climate change and increase your independence from fossil fuels like gas, coal, and oil. Electricity generated from renewable sources does not cause air pollution and does not emit the gases that cause climate change.